Cooking on traditional open and three-stone fires results in large amounts of smoke being produced containing carcinogenic particulates and carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is produced due to the incomplete combustion of fuel, levels of carbon monoxide up to 20 times higher than acceptable WHO guidelines have been recorded as emissions from these traditional cooking methods. A further health risk from cooking methods particularly open fires which are not contained is burns. Women and children are most at risk from poor indoor air quality (IAQ) and burns as women carry out most of the cooking, whilst small children remain close to their mothers. 59% of all indoor pollution-attributed deaths fall on females whilst 56% occur in children under 5 years of age.
Indoor air pollution is responsible for 2.7% of the global burden for disease. The ImpactsOfPoorIAQ are respiratory illness including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, tuberculosis, perinatal outcomes including low birth weight, and eye diseases.
IndoorAirPollutionandHealth (IAP) is a major problem and reducing air pollution is critical for achieving the MDGs (see HowToReduceIndoorAirPollutants). It affects child mortality (MDG 4) and gender equality (MDG 3). In 2006 The 14th session of the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD14) took place in New York, WHO, GTZ, the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air, Practical Action and the US Environmental Protection Agency organised a joint side event entitled "4000 deaths a day from cooking fires? Lets prevent them!". The aim being make a case for the urgent need to improve access to household energy among the poor. This was followed up a year later at CSD15.
It is evident that immediate and ongoing action is required to address indoor air pollution. However, it is important that we act EnsuringSustainability in order to meet the users needs and providing long term solutions addressing the health and financing needs of the user as well as considering environmental impact and marketing issues for the alternative technology proposed.
Links to information about HouseholdSmokeMonitoring provides information based on work by Practical Action in how to effectively reduce smoke emissions.